Sir Roger Bannister reveals Parkinson's disease battle

Roger Bannister It is almost 60 years since Sir Roger Bannister ran a sub-four-minute mile

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Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes, has revealed he has Parkinson's disease.

Sir Roger, 85, made sporting history with his landmark run at Oxford's Iffley Road track on 6 May 1954.

The former neurologist said: "I am having troubles with walking. Ironically, it's a neurological disorder - Parkinson's disease."

He was diagnosed with the condition three years ago.

'Gentle irony'

Sir Roger told BBC Radio Oxford: "I have seen, and looked after, patients with so many neurological and other disorders that I am not surprised I have acquired an illness.

"It's in the nature of things, there's a gentle irony to it.

"I am being well looked after and I don't intend to let it interfere - as much as I can.

"Just consider the alternatives - that is the way I look at it. One of my pleasures in life, apart from running, has been walking. Intellectually I am not [degenerating] and what is walking anyway?"

Roger Bannister about to cross the tape at the end of his record breaking mile run at Iffley Road, Oxford Sir Roger had planned to retire at the 1952 Olympic Games if he won the 1500m - he came fourth

Sir Roger shocked the world when he ran a mile in three minutes 59.4 seconds to become the first person to break the four-minute barrier.

Bannister was helped by Sir Christopher Chataway and Chris Brasher, who acted as pacesetters.

Parkinson's disease

  • It is a neurological condition where nerve cells in the brain die
  • Around one in every 500 people in the UK have the disease
  • There is no known cure, but drugs can help with treatment
  • People with the condition lack a chemical called dopamine, so movements become slower
  • Symptoms include shaking, slow movement, and inflexible muscles, which can make it difficult to walk, write, or do up buttons.

Brasher died in 2003 after a short illness and Chataway died from cancer in January.

Bannister may be best remembered for the sub-four minute mile, but he said his 1954 Commonwealth Games gold medal was the pinnacle of his athletics career.

The Vancouver Games were held only months after he broke the four-minute barrier, but the race was made all the more important as his chief adversary, Australia's John Landy, had broken his famous record 46 days before.

'Special race'

Bannister took the title in a Games record 3:58.8, leaving Landy, who clocked 3:59.6, to take the silver.

"The race between the two of us was a very, very special race," he said.

"It determined which would be regarded as the superior runner in history."

Six decades on, he has warned a breakthrough in the fight against Parkinson's could still be some way off.

"I know quite a lot about it and have treated a lot of people with it," he said.

"I am aware of all the research that's been done. I think it will take some time before there is a breakthrough, but the management and drug treatments are improving all the time."

Parkinson's UK chief executive Steve Ford said he was "saddened" to hear the "much-loved sporting legend" was being treated for the disease.

"One person every hour in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson's," he said.

"We applaud Sir Roger and his decision to speak publicly about his diagnosis at this stage in his long life."

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    Marcus Ericsson's Caterham car

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    Hylton hails the U's 16:13: Nabil Hassan BBC Sport

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    A Chiltern Railways train at Bicester North station

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    Death festival 15:30: BBC Radio Oxford

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    Uni staff walkout 15:15: Oxford Times

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    News on the hour 14:55: Victoria Laurence

    Coming up in the news at 15:00: Britain's longest serving scout has died at the age of 99.

    Reg Hayes

    Reg Hayes, of Cowley, Oxford, only retired from the Scout Association in 2010 due to back problems.

    Post office raid 14:45:

    Cigarettes and tobacco have been stolen from a post office in Uffington, Thames Valley Police has said.

    Raiders forced the doors to the branch in Broad Street in the early hours of last Thursday.

    Once inside, they conducted an untidy search and stole cigarettes and tobacco.

    Motorcycle dreams 14:30:

    Oxfordshire's Georgina Polden has been talking to BBC Sport about her dream of becoming the first woman to race in MotoGP.

    Georgina Polden

    She said: "I just want to be treated like everyone else.

    "To any parents wondering if motorcycling is the right sport for their little girl, I wouldn't worry about it. It can be dangerous and scary but it's good to live life on the edge a little bit."

    U's on the up 14:15:

    Oxford United have risen to 19th place in League Two after their 3-1 win at Northampton last night.

    League Two table

    Northampton Town manager Chris Wilder blamed the defeat on "five minutes of madness" after U's striker Danny Hylton scored two goals in the space of three minutes in the first half.

    News on the hour 13:58: Victoria Laurence, BBC Radio Oxford

    Coming up in the news at 14:00: A three-week festival to celebrate life and death has started in Oxfordshire.

    The Kicking The Bucket festival aims to break the taboo of talking about death.

    How big is your house? 13:44:

    We've been talking about Oxfordshire's housing shortage all day. Over on our Facebook page, we've been asking you if its selfish to live in a house that is too big for you?


    Amy Swanson said: "If you have the money to buy the kind of house/flat/bungalow etc that you have always wanted I don't see what the problem is."

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    Brothel sentencing 13:30: Oxford Mail

    Three women who ran an "efficient and professional" brothel in an upmarket Oxford street have been sentenced.

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    Lunchtime TV 13:13: BBC South Today

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    Brad Pitt

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    news On the hour 12:58: Clare Woodling Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Coming up on BBC Radio Oxford at 13:00: There's been an "avalanche" of responses to a draft local plan for West Oxfordshire.

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    'Inspiring' scout dies 12:48: Emily-Ann Elliott BBC News Online

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    Reg Hayes

    Reg Hayes, of Cowley, Oxford, only retired from the Scout Association in 2010 after 87 years.

    Phil Earl, the Oxfordshire Scouting volunteer manager, said: "His contribution to scouting in Oxford was unfailing and he touched the lives of countless young people and families through his work."

    'Pushing up the price' 12:34: via Facebook

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    Witney homes plan 12:19: Oxford Times

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    CCFE Fusion Energy's video

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    Paul Worth said: "If you've bought it because you had a family and they have left, why should you have to leave your home that is yours??"

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    Four-vehicle crash 11:31:

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    Scouting man dies 11:11: Peter Cooke Reporter, BBC South Today

    Britain's longest serving scout has died aged 99.

    Reg Hayes

    Reg Hayes, from Cowley, Oxford, served in the 2nd Oxford SS Mary and St John Scout Group for 87 years before retiring in October 2010.

    news On the hour 10:58: Clare Woodling Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

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    Size matters 10:43: Malcolm Boyden Mid-morning presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

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    Sex offence victim plea 10:21:

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    news on the hour 10:00: Clare Woodling Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    There's a call for more affordable homes in Oxfordshire as the scale of the housing crisis has been revealed.

    Three councils in the county have unlawfully housed homeless families in bed and breakfasts for more than six weeks in the past year.

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    Accident delays 09:31: Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

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    Didcot B Power Station on fire

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    Stammer trial 09:09: Phil Gayle Breakfast presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Electrical brain stimulation is to be used in a trial to treat stammering by scientists at the University of Oxford.

    Volunteers with stammers will be asked to speak to the time of a metronome, whilst a weak voltage is applied to their scalps using electrodes.

    Does stammering affect you and what do you think about the new trial? Get in touch in touch via email, Facebook or Twitter.

    In the news 08:58: Charles Nove Presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Homeless families have been unlawfully housed in bed and breakfasts for more than six weeks in the past year by half of the councils in the south.

    The Vale of White Horse, Cherwell and West Oxfordshire councils are among the authorities.

    More on BBC Radio Oxford at 09:00.

    Bike brakes warning 08:47: Oxford Mail

    A coroner has warned young cyclists to ensure their BMX bikes have brakes after the death of a 12-year-old boy.

    Mateusz Kucinski was riding in Charney Road, Southmoor, near Abingdon, on April 12, when he collided with a car on the A420, Oxfordshire Coroner's Court heard yesterday.

    Police officers investigated 08:38:

    Five police officers have been served with gross misconduct notices after an Oxfordshire man died following his arrest.

    IPCC logo

    Duncan Tomlin, 32, formerly of Woodstock, was detained on 26 July and put in a police van in Ryecroft, Haywards Heath, Sussex.

    After becoming unwell, he was taken out of the van and given CPR. He was taken to hospital where he later died.

    The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said a police sergeant and four PCs will be interviewed.

    Housing shortage 08:29: Phil Gayle Breakfast presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    On BBC Radio Oxford this morning I'm doing a housing special. What impact is Oxfordshire's housing shortage having on you and your family?

    Housing generic

    If you live in a place where expansion is planned, like Bodicote where I am now, how do you think this affect your local community?

    Get in touch via email, Facebook or Twitter.

    Train disruption 08:19: Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Delays of up to 15 minutes are possible on First Great Western services between London Paddington and Reading due to a signalling problem.

    There are the usual queues on the A44 into Oxford from the Yarnton to the Wolvercote roundabout - as a result Stagecoach has reported some delays to S3 buses.

    Plenty of sunshine 08:09: Bee Tucker BBC Weather

    It will be a cooler start today, but there should be plenty of sunshine this morning with much lighter winds than yesterday.


    It should remain dry through the afternoon, however it is set to turn cloudier and breezier as well.

    Highs of 12C (54F).

    Good morning 08:00: Sue Paz BBC Local Live

    Hello and welcome to BBC Local Live for Oxfordshire.

    We'll have all the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across the county.

    Let us know what's happening where you are by getting in touch via email, Facebook or Twitter.



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